The epicenter for wine studies in France, and host to an internationally acclaimed charity wine auction each November (Hospices de Beaune), Burgundy, and specifically Beaune, is also a prime spot for culinary adventures. A TGV train ride (depending on the train, it's as short as 2 hours and 13 minutes) from Paris gets you to this eastern town with ease, and there is no need to rent a car when you get there.
Extremely pedestrian-friendly, Beaune hovers around 40,000 and boasts tons of wine shops, wine bars, and retail shops selling wine gadgets that would put Williams-Sonoma to shame. Even the bookstores tap into wine, with guides to wine regions around the world, though especially France.
A staggering list of at least 100 restaurants provides options ranging from casual brasseries to Michelin-starred restaurants, and a mix of dishes that span classic (boeuf bourguignon and poulet de bresse) to contemporary (sushi at Sushi Kai). Just make sure to hit these insider's picks and to order a glass of Crémant, Burgundy's sparkling wine.
Wine-tasting tutorials are offered at Sensation Vin three times a day, with each class lasting between 60 and 90 minutes. Class times are at 10:30 am, 2:30 pm and 4:30 pm and students gather around a communal table to learn about wine. Consider taking a class early in your trip so that consulting a Burgundy wine list won't seem so overwhelming each time you eat out in Beaune.
Edmond Fallot La Moutarderie
Learn the art of making Burgundy-style mustard (better known as Dijon-style) during a tour of Edmond Fallot La Moutarderie where, on one stop during the "Decouvertes" (Discoveries) tour (10 Euros), you'll receive a quick lesson. The facility opened in 2003, but their mustards have been in production since 1840. While some of the mustards are sold at Williams-Sonoma the store is worth a stop to pick up some souvenirs if you are a huge mustard lover. Tours are held from mid-March to mid-November at 10 am and 11:30 am Monday through Saturday. During June, July, and August, afternoon tours are added (at 3:30 pm and 5 pm).
The Cook's L'Atelier
Headed up by Marjorie Taylor, the former owner of a Phoenix restaurant, cooking classes through The Cook's L'Atelier are tailored to Burgundy cuisine, with wine pairings to match. The classes take place inside a 17th Century private mansion and include "field trips" such as a guided tour of a farmers market, called "market tour and cooking class" (200 Euros); and "a cook's workshop" (395-2500 Euros) lasting one, three, or five days and consisting of highly specialized instruction in a small group.
Held on Wednesday and Saturday, in the middle of Beaune's historic square, you're bound to find not only organic produce but local artisan cheeses, cured meats, berries (particularly raspberries and blackberries), clothing designers, eggs, honey, and sustainably grown meat.
Doubling as a retailer of food and wine gadgets (with more bottle openers than you've ever seen), at Athenaeum you can also pick up wine guides, cookbooks about Burgundy cuisine, and travel guides to other regions in France and around the world. Budding winemakers will be fascinated by the many titles about oenology, the art of winemaking. Sterling silver tastevin – a small saucer used to evaluate wine – are sold here too.
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Photo Credits: Sensation Vin: Wine Bottles via Shutterstock.com; Edmond Fallot La Moutarderie: Courtesy of Edmond Fallot La Moutarderie; The Cook's Atelier: Courtesy of the Cook's Atelier; Farmer's Market: Beaune farmer's market by DeniseAttribution License; Athenaeum: Courtesy of Athenaeum